Goodman Community Center | Unwind outdoors on Madison's east side

Unwind outdoors on Madison's east side

Gathering spots across the east side come alive as the weather warms up. Here's a few top spots to check out.

May 24, 2022 |
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Tables full of patrons on warm days at the Olbrich Park biergarten.
The Olbrich Park Biergarten's tables fill up on nice days.

By Alisyn Amant, Eastside News

The east side of Madison nurtures a community brought together by shared spaces and collective gatherings. Its distinctive identity makes it far from being simply another geographical part of the city: the area’s signature event venues, restaurants and parks serve as a backdrop to a variety of unique, memorable experiences for locals and visitors alike.

Many of the east side’s notable establishments offer outdoor, communal space as spring flourishes and the city begins to emerge from the grueling lifestyles of yet another COVID-19 pandemic winter. A couple of locations in particular stand out as the best places to gather for drinks, food and conversation. There are other outdoor locations nearby to try as well, and more could be coming since the city now has a permanent Roadway Cafe Expansion License to replace the “Streetery” program.

Olbrich Park Biergarten

Olbrich Park, one of Madison’s largest lakefront properties, is an ideal location for groups looking to partake in a variety of outdoor activities. Community members regularly stroll through its botanical gardens, relax on the shoreline, or take kayaks out onto Lake Monona from the park’s launches.

After it opened in 2017, the Biergarten at Olbrich has been attracting visitors to the park. One can easily spend hours at the community tables or playing yard games in the roped-off section while enjoying a cold beverage or sausage. Drinks and limited food choices are sold from the stand near the beach. In line with tradition, they encourage customers to bring their own picnic lunches and dinners to simply celebrate and appreciate the stunning lakefront views and the breeze off the lake.

Dexter’s Pub

Those looking for an authentic Wisconsin experience will find exactly that at Dexter’s Pub. In the heart of Madison’s east side, Dexter’s combines and delivers the peak of Wisconsinite culture: beer, pub fare, trivia and sports. It creates an atmosphere that one immediately feels at home with, whether because of the traditional pizza and burgers or the welcoming service.

Its outdoor seating options allow for a firsthand look at one of Madison’s friendliest neighborhoods as it spills out onto the sidewalk. The vibrance and buzz of the east side, accompanied by good food, make Dexter’s an incomparable gathering place.

Garver Feed Mill

In close proximity to Olbrich Park, Garver Feed Mill is a repurposed agricultural building that maintains Madison’s history while offering access to a variety of contemporary artisans, foods and retailers. Its tenants include Ian’s Pizza, Perennial Yoga, NessAlla Kombucha and more, but they also cater to private events.

Outdoor space on either side of the building provides ample seating to gather and enjoy fare ordered from Garver tenants. The feeling is a bit of an urban oasis outside Garver, as it is surrounded by wildflowers, the bike path and tucked away from the traffic from nearby streets. During the warmer months, live music performances are scheduled.

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